Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Tracing Back the Radiance

BY Bryon HayesPublished Jul 16, 2019

Having brought along a cast of incredibly talented and exploratory musicians, veteran ambient musician Jefre Cantu-Ledesma returns to the Mexican Summer label with a subdued, introspective and leisurely paced vengeance — a warm-hued serenity, glowing with harmonic radiance.
Ledesma lays down vibraphone tones, while his accompanists weave in flute (Forma's John Also Bennett), harp (Marilu Donavan and Mary Lattimore), synth (Gregg Kowalsky and Fly Pan Am's Roger Tellier Craig), piano (David Moore) and other instruments.  A collaborative process that straddled "conversation, singular vision, and a wild game of exquisite corpse," according to a press release, Ledesma both led and immersed himself in the progression of music-making. The resulting lengthy pieces are both languid and articulate.
"Palace of Time" wafts along harmoniously, an expressive series of piano notes the only discernible figure peering through the misty clouds of tone. The piece charts a steady path over its 21-minute runtime, offering an intensely meditative experience. Ledesma's vibraphone folds in on itself behind an airy clarinet passage on "Joy." The clarinet is courtesy of Golden Retriever's Jonathan Sielaff, who is allowed a broad space to stretch his lungs; he does so unhurriedly and with a keen ear for melody.
The album concludes eponymously with a glowing cloud of exquisitely produced drone. Ledesma and company let their instruments ring out to the infinite, as horizons melt in a surrealist disappearance of space and time. Somehow, the players have managed to escape our universe, and what they've brought back with them is both captivating and indescribably beautiful.
(Mexican Summer)

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